The Power of Movement for Mental Wellness

Written by: Dr. Colton Plunkett, PT, DPT

Is the shorter daylight and colder weather getting you down? Thankfully, we are nearing the end of the cold winter months here in Alabama, but seasonal depression tends to peak this time of year and make people less likely to spend time outside or perform their favorite recreational activities. While seasonal depression is common, there’s good news: research suggests exercise may be even more effective than medication at managing mental health. With no signs of slowing, it may be time to consider exercise as a treatment method too!

Let’s talk about the research…

  • A recent review of 79 studies found exercise outperformed medication and therapy for managing various mental health conditions. That’s huge!

  • High-intensity workouts showed greater benefits than low or moderate intensity exercise.Think about pushing yourself a bit!

  • Research suggests exercise strengthens the “grit” part of your brain, making you more resilient to stress and negativity. Who doesn’t want that?

Exercise options to consider:

  • Group classes: There are plenty of gyms in the Huntsville/Madison area that have a plethora of group classes to choose from including pilates, cycling, yoga, Zumba, etc. 

  • Cross fit: This is a great option for someone who likes to exercise in a group setting at a higher level of intensity, and wants to increase their overall functional strength. 

  • Bodybuilding: This is a great option for someone who does not enjoy group workouts, and is easy to start and learn as you progress.

  • Powerlifting: This does require some experience in order to perform it efficiently and safely, so make sure to find a physical therapist, personal  trainer, or other resource to help you if needed. 

  • Walking & running: This is a great and cheap option, with many different possibilities. I discussed at greater length about the benefits of walking and running in a previous blog, so go check it out if you are interested.

Most of these forms of exercise can be performed in a high or moderate intensity. However, crossfit and running tend to be higher intensity, while walking, powerlifting, and bodybuilding tend to be moderate intensity. If you are unsure of how to decipher between moderate and high intensity exercise, here are some measurements to follow:

  • Moderate: Think brisk walking, talking while exercising (Borg RPE scale 12-14).

  • High: Feel the burn! You can barely hold a conversation (Borg RPE scale 15-17).

Remember, choose activities you enjoy and gradually increase intensity. If you have questions or need support along the way, reach out to NesinFIT at 256-461-9654 or visit

Denice H,
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I just finished my physical therapy with NesinFit. I cannot say enough to express how grateful I am to have had the opportunity to work on improving my physical fitness and mobility with their wonderful staff. My main therapist Jonathan was amazing! So knowledgeable and patient, he not only helped me to progress during my sessions, he gave me things to do at home to keep the improvements going! I would recommend NesinFit to anyone needing Physical Therapy!!
Brian P.
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My experience with the NesinFIT team has been great. Jonathan and Amanda are experts in their field. They developed a plan specific to my injuries and goals. I've had experiences in the past with doctors that told me to stop squatting or deadlfiting. This is not the NesinFIT approach. They work to address the issues instead of ignoring them so you can't get back to the activities you love without pain. Couldn't recommend them more.
Braden B.
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Highly recommend Nesin and NesinFit! I recently suffered a serious hamstring tear and could barely walk when I first came in. Working with Johnathan was awesome! Not only am I fully recovered, but I’m leaving stronger than when I came in. All of the staff and therapist are super friendly, professional, and easy to work with.